Anatomy of Teeth
You chomp with them. You brush and floss them. You flash them when you smile. But how much do you really know about teeth? Let’s take a close look at the anatomy of your pearly whites.
If your gums bleed, don’t ignore it. Bleeding gums can be a sign of major problems with your teeth and gums. It can also be a sign of a serious medical issue.
If your smile isn’t quite what it could be, your dentist may recommend braces. Braces use constant pressure to slowly change the position of your teeth. Braces can correct a wide range of problems. They can straighten crooked teeth. They can move teeth to prevent crowding. And, they can correct the alignment of your bite.
Brushing the Right Way
We all know it’s important to brush our teeth every day. Good brushing habits are a key part of good oral hygiene. To make sure you’re getting your teeth as clean as they can be, follow these steps.
Coping with Dental Anxiety
For many people, the thought of going to the dentist causes worry and stress. Maybe you’ve had a painful experience in the past. Maybe you’re scared of what it will take to fix a cavity or other problem. But it’s not good to avoid the dentist. Delaying or skipping visits lets small problems turn into big ones. So use these tips to control your fear.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
A very small crack in your tooth can be painful. It can be above or below the gum line. The crack can be so small you don’t see it. Sometimes your dentist has trouble seeing it, even with X-rays. This can be frustrating. We call this problem “cracked tooth syndrome.”
If you’ve lost a tooth, or even a few teeth next to each other, a dental bridge can fill in the gap. A bridge is a device that is permanently implanted in your mouth. It replaces the teeth you’ve lost. And it keeps your other teeth from moving out of position.
This is a cap that is permanently placed over your tooth. It’s designed to cover and protect it. A crown can strengthen a tooth that’s weak or damaged. It restores a decayed tooth’s appearance. It can be used to attach a bridge, or to cover a dental implant or a tooth that has been treated with a root canal.
A filling is a simple repair for a cavity in a tooth. It fills the hole. It keeps bacteria from entering your tooth and causing more decay. Let’s look at a few types of dental fillings.
This is a type of artificial tooth. It’s held in place by a metal post that’s surgically embedded in your jawbone. A dental implant can look and perform just like a real tooth.
If your dentist needs to adjust your teeth, create a dental implant or fit you for dentures, you may need to have a dental impression made. That’s a mold of your teeth and gums. Your dentist may take an impression of just a few of your teeth, or all of them.
If you’ve lost one or more teeth, or if you need to have a tooth pulled, you should learn about the options for restoring your smile. Here are a few common ways to replace missing teeth.
This is a way of getting images of the inside of your teeth and jaws. It relies on X-rays, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-ray imaging lets your dentist see problems that aren’t easy to see during a regular exam.
Losing your teeth makes it hard to eat and talk. Your face may sag, which makes you look older than you are. Dentures can help. They replace your natural teeth. You’ll be able to chew foods again. And, they give you back your smile.
Flossing the Right Way
Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene. But not everyone knows how to floss the right way. Follow these steps to make sure you’re flossing properly.
This chemical compound, also called “sodium fluoride,” helps strengthen your bones and teeth. It’s found in your teeth’s hard outer layer (called the “enamel”). Throughout your life, your body uses fluoride to repair your teeth’s enamel. Fluoride helps prevent cavities.
If you want a more beautiful smile but you don’t like the look of traditional braces, invisible braces may be right for you. They straighten your teeth without being so noticeable. Here are a few options.
Post and Core Restoration
This procedure prepares your tooth for a dental crown. It’s helpful for a tooth that has lost so much of its natural crown that it can’t support a dental crown. Most often, it’s done on a tooth that has already had a root canal.
Removable Partial Denture
If you’ve lost a tooth, or even a few teeth next to each other, a removable partial denture can fill in the gap. It’s a prosthetic device that’s made to fit comfortably in your mouth. And you can take it out at night and for cleaning.
This procedure treats an infection deep inside your tooth, in the soft tissue called “pulp.” A root canal can save even a badly damaged tooth. Your root canal may be done by your general dentist, but more complicated cases are often done by a specialist. And you may need to schedule more than one visit.
Scaling and Root Planing
This treatment for gum disease removes plaque above and below the gum line. It cleans out pockets of plaque that you can’t reach with brushing and flossing. It helps your gums heal, and may prevent tooth loss.
Dental sealant is a protective coating that keeps harmful plaque from touching your teeth. When sealant is put on several of your teeth, we say you have “sealants.” Sealants help slow down or prevent tooth decay.
This is a form of hardened plaque that builds up on your teeth. You can’t brush it away. It can be embarrassing, and it’s bad for your teeth and gums.
If you aren’t happy with with the color of your teeth, you may want to have your dentist whiten them. Teeth whitening (we also call it “bleaching”) is safe and effective. It can give you a much more brilliant smile.
Tooth Decay (Dental Caries)
Your teeth are protected by a hard outer layer we call “enamel.” If you don’t practice good oral hygiene, this enamel can break down. Harmful bacteria gets through the weak enamel and begins to destroy your teeth. This is tooth decay.
If you have a tooth that’s badly damaged, decayed or that is crowding your other teeth, your dentist may recommend removing it. We call this “extraction.” It’s a common dental procedure.
These are false fronts for your teeth. They’re bonded to your teeth, so they don’t come off. If you have teeth that are poorly shaped, misaligned, damaged, stained or decayed, veneers can give you a beautiful smile.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
If you have one or more wisdom teeth that are causing problems in your mouth, you may need to have them removed. We call it “extraction.” Sometimes extraction can be done by a dentist, but sometimes you may need to go to an oral surgeon.